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Grow Your Business Technology

What is PaaS (Platform as a Service)?

cloud development Credit: Mmaxer | Shutterstock

Platform as a Service (PaaS) is a cloud computing service model. PaaS caters to the software developer by offering a development environment in which software can be created over the Internet through a Web browser. This not only makes it easier to develop an application, but also allows developers to work on the application no matter their location.

The core concept of PaaS

In this budding age of technology, countless businesses seek to enter the software development arena and compete with larger companies in all areas of software solutions. Creating a company is easy enough, but securing the hardware and software resources needed to effectively create a quality application becomes quite expensive. PaaS works like something akin to middleware, helping an organization to create and test an app without having to worry about the underlying architecture.

Developers want to write code, test and launch the app, and continuously make changes to fix bugs, a process that can easily be hindered by the back-end stuff of managing servers. PaaS caters to both new and established businesses by streamlining the development and testing process by consolidating the resources and environments needed to create software, all while reducing it to a more manageable monthly cost that requires no maintenance from the consumer.

The benefits of PaaS

Software developers, web developers and even businesses stand to receive many benefits from PaaS. From managing an existing application to creating new software, this solution provides all of the features needed for efficient development, testing and hosting. Typical PaaS solutions offer the following features:

  • Operating system
  • Server-side scripting
  • Database management
  • Storage
  • Network access
  • Development and design tools
  • Hosting

Each of these is critically important in the software development industry. It creates a ring-fenced environment for development and testing, meaning greater levels of protection against external infiltration or simple data loss. The benefits of PaaS extend beyond simple features to give businesses a true edge:

No physical infrastructure needed. The true benefit to a cloud-based service is the ability to rent virtual infrastructure. Rather than needing to purchase and maintain expensive hardware for servers and storage, businesses can free themselves up to focus on creating software using the virtualized hardware they need.

Development for non-developers possible. PaaS solutions can even cater to non-developers, allowing for single-click functionalities in the form of blog software installs like Wordpress.

Flexibility. The business has control over what tools they install on the platform in order to create the ideal software development environment.

Adaptability. Many PaaS solutions allow for individual features to be changed for a company’s varying circumstances for increased levels of customization.

Geographically-separated teams can work together. Many organizations have multiple teams spread throughout distant geographic locations, which means having a cloud-based environment is important. With PaaS, developers can work on the same application from across the world through the convenience of a web browser interface.

Security. With hosting hardware in-house comes the difficulties of employing adequate levels of physical and digital security. By using PaaS, a business can pass off the responsibility of ensuring the protection of their data through the hosting service’s own data center security redundancies.

[Related: Cloud Computing: A Small Business Guide]

PaaS vs. IaaS vs. SaaS

Two other cloud service models are Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS). Whereas IaaS provides server and network resources and SaaS provides software solutions, PaaS allows for the easy creation of software. In a way, it offers some of the same services as IaaS and SaaS, offering server resources to store and manage application files while also giving the developer access to a series of software features intended to aid in developing an application. In truth, with PaaS you’re paying for the infrastructure needed to support app development as well as the software needed to create the app. However, the feature offerings of IaaS and SaaS for the PaaS solution are quite limited in scope, thus validating the differentiation between each model of cloud service.

PaaS providers

PaaS creates an ideal environment for developing applications, establishing valuable architectures and infrastructures needed to support programming. Services like Microsoft Azure, VMware Pivotal, Force.com, and Google App Engine are very well-established in the PaaS model, catering to thousands of businesses in creating competitive applications. For any company that specializes in software, PaaS solutions invariably create a more secure development and testing environment.